Manchester City vs Real Madrid
The league leaders of England and Spain meet at the Etihad Stadium with a lot on the line.
Manchester City are locked in an intense battle with Liverpool for the title. They thumped five against Watford at the weekend with Gabriel Jesus scoring four. He has become a key part of the matchday squad in recent weeks.
Pep Guardiola has a habit of “overthinking” big Champions League matches but will want to keep it simple. The problem is he is missing a few key pieces.
— FootTheBall FC (@FootTheBallFC) April 23, 2022
𝗠𝗢𝗡𝗗𝗔𝗬 𝗠𝗔𝗥𝗞𝗘𝗥 ✍️
All you need to know for City’s week ahead ⬇️
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 25, 2022
City made it to the final last season and their form in the league has been imperious. However, the continental competition is a different ball game as evidenced in the last round. Atletico Madrid gave them a hellish time in the second leg so Guardiola will be extremely on his guard.
Jesus, Phil Foden, and Raheem Sterling will have to shoulder the goal-scoring burden. Moreover, taking a lead going into the second leg in Madrid will be one of the priorities.
La Liga is proving to be a cakewalk for Los Blancos. Carlo Ancelotti’s side hold an almost unassailable 15-point lead over second-place with five games to go. There’s no guessing who the star attraction of the season has been.
Karim Benzema is in otherworldly form and his linkup play with Vinicius Jr. has ripped defences all year long. However, they were given an almighty scare by Chelsea in the last round, managing to just squeak through.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) April 25, 2022
Ancelotti will want to avoid a repeat of that at all costs and not fall behind in the first leg. Luka Modric is ageing like fine wine but the form of Toni Kroos is a slight worry. They have a settled defence which will also feature Ferland Mendy this time. Real Madrid are masters of this competition and can never be taken lightly, least of all this season.
Joao Cancelo is suspended for the first leg. Kyle Walker should come in, having recovered from his knock. The return of Ruben Dias is a blessing for Guardiola.
PROBABLE LINE-UP: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko; Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva; Sterling, Foden, Jesus
Luka Jovic and Nacho Fernandez are the only absentees from the regular squad.
PROBABLE LINE-UP: Courtois; Carvajal, Alaba, Militao, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Vinicius Jr., Benzema, Rodrygo
The battle of the two great playmakers in midfield will be key. Kevin De Bruyne has established himself as one of the best in his position across Europe. The Belgian has been the linchpin of Manchester City’s fearsome attack over the years.
De Bruyne has racked up 25 goal contributions (14 goals, 11 assists) across all competitions. He can play just in behind the front line and in attack too.
Kevin De Bruyne has been directly involved in 14 goals in his last 11 home games:
⚽️⚽️ vs Leeds
⚽️ vs Leicester
⚽️ vs Chelsea
🅰️🅰️ vs Fulham
⚽️ vs Brentford
⭕️ vs Spurs
⚽️⚽️🅰️ vs Man Utd
⚽️ vs Atlético Madrid
⚽️ vs Liverpool
🅰️ vs Brighton
🅰️ vs Watford
KDBrilliant. 🏡 pic.twitter.com/wDG5Tpa7h1
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) April 23, 2022
De Bruyne does his best work when he gets on the ball and looks up. If he is given any space, De Bruyne is a master at finding the attackers. His pinpoint deliveries and shooting prowess give City an edge whenever they move forward.
Therefore, Guardiola is always looking for his players to involve De Bruyne. Madrid have to be extremely wary of his runs, mainly Casemiro who will have the daunting task.
The big danger for City is Big Benz in dominating form. 40+ goals across all competitions are the return of a man in form. Benzema has developed his game immensely in recent times.
Not only is he a deadly finisher, but Benzema is also a key player too. Madrid facilitate their attacks through Benzema and Vinicius Jr. who have built up a fantastic understanding.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) April 14, 2022
Moreover, the Frenchman is deadly in the air too as Chelsea found out in the last round. Benzema is mobile, first-time shooter and pressurizes goalkeepers superbly. Ederson will have to be careful because he is known to take a few risks.
Madrid can look to target the left side given the absence of Joao Cancelo. If they can overload City’s defensive high line, Benzema will be in business.
It should be an extremely close affair. Two great teams filled with superstars with the final in sight. Given the first-leg is in England, City do hold the slight edge. FootTheBall predicts a 1-0 win for the Etihad outfit.